Home ODISHA LATEST Odisha land scam: Villagers resent arrest of poor tribal, dalit leaseholders

Odisha land scam: Villagers resent arrest of poor tribal, dalit leaseholders

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Oct 17:

Tension prevails in Ghangapatna village on the outskirts of Odisha’s capital city following the arrest of 12 poor tribals and dalits by the Crime Branch police on the charge of sale of leased land on Thursday.

The villagers have taken strong exception to the faulty investigation by the Crime Branch police, who have arrested these 12 innocent leaseholders instead of taking similar action against the land mafia and brokers, who were the real culprits in the illegal sale of these leased lands.

Illegally occupied land in Ghangapatna (Pic- Biswaranjan  Mishra)
Illegally occupied land in Ghangapatna
(Pic- Biswaranjan Mishra)

The villagers said these 12 tribal and harijan families had been harvesting millet and vegetables from these lands which were leased out to them by the state government.

But as their crops were repeatedly damaged by wild elephants, these poor villagers had to give up cultivation as they suffered losses year after year and were unable to repay the loans.

Later, the local tehsildar had cancelled the lease of some of the lands leased out to these poor villagers without notice.

Taking opportunity of the situation, the land mafia and brokers later managed to lure these poor leaseholders to sell their land, they said.

The villagers also said there was no restriction on sale and purchase of these leased out lands by the concerned registrar and that it was the land brokers who had taken the responsibility of tampering with the original land records.

“How the illiterate lease holders, who had no knowledge about the sale and purchase of the land, were wrong in receiving money after signing on the sale deed?”, they asked.

Meanwhile, four leaseholders—Yudhistir Nayak, Kasinath Nayak, Bilas Dehuri and Ratnakar Parida— who were arrested on Thursday and released on bail later in the day, told the media that the Crime Branch police had asked them to name the persons who had purchased the land from them.

“We told them that we do not know the purchaser. We received the money from the brokers after signing on the documents”, they said.

They were at a loss to make sense of why they were arrested and released later.

The villagers also alleged that some influential persons, who had taken possession of these lands through these brokers, have been given protection by the government.

Sources said that the irate villagers have decided to stage a massive agitation for the release of the other eight arrested leaseholders.